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Indian Summer Boozing Part One: On the Town

Carolyn Alburger | August 27, 2013 | Story Wine and Spirits

The calendar says September, but the sun and the sweat on your brow scream "Summer!" Here, eight hot-weather cocktails to sip before our balmy months come to an end:

1) Pimm’s Punch at Ramen Shop: Ramen and cocktails? Yes, actually. The Chez Panisse vets who run Rockridge’s hotshot ramen spot kick out powerful drinks spiked with mescal and rye in cute vintage glasses—a surprisingly spot-on antidote to spoonfuls of spicy miso ramen. The winner here is the Pimm’s Punch, which makes smoky mescal refreshing by infusing it with cucumbers. $10. 5812 College Ave. (at Oak Grove Ave.), Oakland, 510-788-6370

2) La Copa Verde at Padrecito: Don’t let this drink’s grass-green, juice-cleanse color fool you. Its combination of smoky mescal and cilantro syrup is anything but austere—you’re guaranteed a buzz after one round. The bar also uses a “secret” mixer recipe developed with the chef and just enough chipotle to make your lips tingle. $10. 901 Cole St. (at Carl St.), 415-742-5505

3) Chilcano at El Techo de Lolinda: At the Mission’s only rooftop bar, this foot-tall, sunset-hued sipper goes down like Kool-Aid, taking you far away from the underwhelming stretch of Mission Street below. The concoction starts with a classic Peruvian chilcano (pisco and ginger ale), made sassier with sweet passion fruit and zingier with spicy ginger syrup. Only negative: it doesn’t come in pitchers. $10. 2518 Mission St. (near 21st St.), 415-550-6970

4) Mai Tai at Tonga Room: Pu pu platters, syrupy drinks, and faux rainstorms—a night at the Tonga Room feels like the best kind of kitschy Club Med vacay. And in July, the bar sweetened the deal with, well, less sugary drinks. Now its vintage mai tai mugs are filled with fancier rums (Denizen and Appleton Estate V/X) and dashes of all-natural orgeat—no fake simple syrup, no sweet-and-sour. you’ll drain this coconut. $13. 950 Mason St. (near California St.), 415-772-5278

5) Leather and Lace at Trick Dog: This drink, inspired by North Africa, has a secret weapon in Velvet Falernum, an exotic Barbadian spicy clove, lime peel, and ginger liqueur, delicious enough that bar manager Morgan Schick suggests pouring it over pancakes. Rosy Amaro Montenegro and barrel-aged rum fill out each heady, tropical sip. In a word: enchanting. $12. 3010 20th St. (near Florida St.),415-471-2999

6) Crimson Tide at Roka Akor: The downstairs bar at Roka Akor may look dark and brooding, but it puts forth a mean girly drink. Muddled strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries get a dose of ladies-who-lunch sophistication from Campari. Lavender-scented ice cubes fill your nose with flowery smells, and seltzer makes each sip fizzy and fresh. $12. 801 Montgomery St. (at Jackson St.), 415-362-8887

7) Violet Flowers Highball at La Urbana: No cough syrup codeine, no Jolly Rancher fake grape flavor: This purple drink gets its hue from fancy violet liqueur—for a grown-up take on the same old margarita. Shaken at NoPa’s brand new modern Mexican spot (opened September 4th), the cocktail also has tequila, pink cava, and a hint of orange-flower water. It’s bubbly, boozy, and floral—so good that it should be illegal. $11. 661 Divisadero St. (at Grove St.), 415-440-4500

8) Outer Sunset at Farmshop: Farm-to-table is a given around here, but Marin’s hottest new restaurant takes the farm straight to the cocktail glass. This coral-colored beaut starts with Frog Hollow Farm’s in-season pluots, pressed in a Hurom slow juicer to extract the natural enzymes and vitamins. All that purity is defiled by a jigger of Crusoe organic rum and a touch of sweet vermouth. Alice Waters would certainly approve. $14. 2233 Larkspur Landing Cir. (at Lincoln Village Cir.), Larkspur, 415-755-6700

Part 2: Do Try This at Home

Originally published in the September 2013 issue of San Francisco

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